The impact of women in the technological and scientific industry

Until 2018, only 5% of the collaborators in the technology industry were women, a sign of the urgent need for companies to cooperate to encourage women’s participation. Five influential women of the innovation ecosystem met to discuss the challenges they face today —and will face in the the future— around this issue.

“Women: Science, Technology, Innovation in Business” was the name of the seminar held by SOFOFA Hub to discuss women’s participation in the technology industry during Women’s Month.

Participating in the discussion were Carolina Torrealba, undersecretary of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation; Sandra Ogaz, Enel’s Senior Specialist of Open Innovation and Idea Factory Chile; Valeria Munoz, IT manager at Mercado Libre; and Gloria Bonder, coordinator of the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender. Rosario Navarro, SOFOFA board member and vice chairman at SONDA, acted as the meeting’s moderator.

Undersecretary Torrealba opened the seminar, directly highlighting the challenges currently experienced by companies regarding women participation in the scientific and technological world, and how the ministry itself has adapted to meet those challenges.

“We have already been working for a year at the ministry, to articulate this new institutionalism, with a cross-sectional gender perspective, in everything we do. It will have gender equality criteria in its gears. This means that it is crucial for the country, and to make a public contribution in science and technology. It must have a gender perspective for it to positively impact on the creation of knowledge and value, because it is absolutely decisive for the future that we will have to face, today and in the short term”, Torrealba explained, referring to a plan that the ministry will soon present on this subject.

Sandra Ogaz contributed to the conversation by showing how women’s participation within companies has been promoted and strengthened, forming the Woman Innovation Lab community, whose purpose is to innovate and foster the professional development and leadership of women within Enel.

For her part, Valeria Munoz shared her personal experience of how she became IT manager at Mercado Libre, and like Ogaz, she illustrated how she has tried to apply greater gender diversity at the company’s different levels.

The cycle was completed by Gloria Bonder, who provided an analytical and reflective look at women’s participation in the system. The UNESCO coordinator pointed directly to a profound transformation in culture and business practices, trying to break down prejudices and stereotypes regarding women.

“Equality is not a numbers game. It is not a question of adding more women to institutions that are not willing or prepared to accept a major transformation. It needs a major transformation in interpersonal relations, business practices, and ways of doing science and technology,” Bonder explained, citing the words of her former superior at UNESCO regarding the real importance of gender equality in the business system.